Made in China, loved by the world. The phrase is even in the tissue boxes of the boardroom. It is the motto of Gree and the condensation of his "Chinese dream" – aligned with that of President Xi Jinping – of a future where the technology invented and assembled in the country is unmistakable synonym of quality and innovation. "Our products can travel to Europe and the whole world for its quality and technology", boasts Fernando Xie, responsible for external business of the company specializing in air conditioning systems based in Zhu Hai (China).
It's easy to say. The task of making it real is complicated when the kings of the modern market enter the equation: intelligent devices, connected, full of sensors and acceptable for the local market but not so easily adaptable to the domains of the General Regulation of Data Protection (GDPR) . "In some products that we are already selling very well in China, we need to find a way to sell them in Europe," admits Xie.
An example of this is the air conditioning system that Ana Liang, responsible for distribution for southern Europe, plans to present – not launch – in Spain during next February. "It is connected to all weather stations, depending on the temperature of each city where the equipment is installed, it can autoadjust to optimize even more," he explains. In China it works. "It is not so easy to launch it in Spain because of data protection, this is very strict, Asia is generally less strict, there are fewer clauses to be respected and fewer penalties, the problem is Europe."
This adaptation is key to Gree's commitment, whose competitive strategy involves offering technologies that do not have the most established rivals of the Old Continent. "We have started conversations because this is a point that differentiates us from others."says Liang.
We are adapting our software to comply with the law
It's not that your numbers go wrong. When they get great, those responsible for distribution remove the heavy artillery: "Gree manufactures one out of every three air conditioners sold in the world." But the figure has a trick. It has the overwhelming contribution of equipment sold in the huge home market. In fact, 80% of Gree sales remain in China, where they are the first manufacturer. Just look up to see a remarkable representation of the Gree logo between the white carcasses that populate, almost housing to housing, the facades of the buildings of Zhu Hai.
As for expansion plans, the jump to Europe is already a reality. Gree arrived in Spain three years ago and launched his activity in France during 2018. In the imminent 2019, they will go one step further and include Portugal in their portfolio of countries in southern Europe. "I have a lot of confidence in these free markets," says Xie. In addition, the company has distribution agreements in North America, Latin America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia … Climate variations are not a problem. "We have equipment that can operate at a temperature of -30 Cº to 54º C. That is, we can sell them from the desert to the North Pole," says Liang.
Gree's strategy to iron out legal incompatibilities is also underway. "We know that in Europe there is a very strict regulation, so we are adapting our software and our apps to comply with the law, "insists Xie, on the one hand, they already have servers installed in European territory, and on the other, they are in constant communication with local lawyers." Normally, no manufacturer intends to violate local regulations. What happens is that you have to study and master them very well, "argues Liang.
"This is only for the domestic market because we know it differs from your taste," says Yoyo Liang, pointing to a carnival of air conditioning equipment of all shapes and colors. If Audrey Hepburn were a European air conditioner, these would be the Supremes of Móstoles.
"The people here concentrate the values of happy life and are especially for newly married couples," explains Liang. Before her stands a huge pink tower crowned with flowers. Hanging from the wall is another smaller equipment, but of the same tone. "We can create a very romantic moment if we turn off the lights, see?" When you press the switch, in the case of the equipment lights a pattern of bright roses that change color every second. A couple of steps further, another giant device appears imposingly, this time with a wooded landscape printed on its surface. The image is customizable: "So you can show your style and dignity".
All these unexpected, colorful, floral, luminous and customizable designs are also out of reach for the European consumer for now. "We have many products that have a very striking appearance," acknowledges Ana Liang. "You do not like that in Europe, but they sell here, it's another culture, people like it here. show-off. Let it be seen. "
As far as China is concerned, the HVAC market has already been small for this company, which has an 18% state participation. During the last years, the innovation and development teams of the company have diversified their efforts in the development of new commercial lines. The results that go from washing machines to mobile phones passing through software for smart homes.
Although their production plants are still more human than robotic, they also work in the creation of machinery for process automation in Industry 4.0. And not happy with all of the above, they have their own line of small appliances. "When you reach 50% of a market, you have to look for more lines of more business," says Liang.